Click on a picture below to go to a link on web giving information on the artists' work.
Mutualistic Relationships Of Orchidacea
As I venture on my own Orchid journey, each component I sculpt leads to a rabbit hole of others; blooms, then insects, the pollen, the fungi, the mosses, and more. Often I find falling in love with the subject matter helps to build the work in the studio or visa versa.
The family of orchids is an amazing exploration for anyone, as there is so much more about orchids than their beauty and placement in our living rooms. Darwin found in his exploration of orchids " The contrivances for insect fertilization in orchids are multiform and truly wonderful and beautiful".
Barbara Gravendeel of the Naturalis Biodiversity Center in Leiden, Netherlands, said that the new studies show how orchids owe their diversity to a series of innovations. In one example, more often than not orchids evolved with their pollinators.
The amazing diversity in the evolution of orchids is partially due to its Pollinia. Like a sticky ball of pollen that is packet-like, it evolution led to unique ways to deliver it. This may have also led to reproductive barriers giving birth to new species. Pollinia is deposited often on the head of a visiting insect.
As I sculpt a tiny sample of the myriad of insect pollinators to grace the porcelain orchids I discover their amazing relationships, uniquely evolved for each kind of flower.
Orchids also have their own supportive links to mycorrhizae. Young orchids have co-relationships with fungi ('fungi symbionts'-cool name!) supplying them with carbohydrates and the fungi with moisture and more. Mosses and other animal partners also cooexist with orchids and make good examples of a world connected on every level, developed to collaborate in order to survive and change.
The journey of orchid evolution is fascinating. I have been reading books like: Understanding orchids:.... by WIlliam Cullina, Fertilisation of Orchids by Charles Darwin, and even The Orchid Thief by Susan Orlean.
This series of orchids are crafted of copper and porcelain. Orchids in themselves are such amazing and unusual plants. When starting a new direction sometimes I make many sketches in the notebooks strewn about my studio, house and car. Prototypes are usually the next step when using materials that are new or just used in new ways.
Starting with the blooms I made a variety of patterns of each part of the flower- in various sizes. Using these parts I assembled a common orchid flower in thin rolled porcelain. In addition I made many sizes of buds to go with the final assemblage. FInally I sculpted a glazed dish hold crafted copper plant and added porcelain rocks.
After creating /braising the copper leaves and stem they were patinaed for 4 days in a special solution. When finished the assemblage began.
I enjoyed making this piece so lifelike but not to get bogged down in the accuracy of botany. I have several designs in the works more fantastical. Its been a wonderful exploration mimicking the wild orchids like a witch or Dracula orchid and then studying and imitating their various pollinators. The prototype piece will show at Splash Gallery in July and is available at their website for sale. It is 14 inches high, delicate but transportable. Available for online orders and pickup at www.Splash Gallery olympia.com.
China Painting on Porcelain
China painting -also called porcelain painting- involves painting mixed oil paints onto porcelain (or ceramic) surfaces, and then firing at low temperatures in a kiln. The paint is applied in layers to create more vivid and dimensional images. As an artform china painting has faded as the well trained teachers are passing on.
To find contemporary uses of this art is also far and in between. I have been taking classes from Nancy Myatt for about 3 years. A traditional and well known painter, she can teach the basic skills but allows us to move out into our own personal ways. Our small group have fun painting on dishes while we share stories and the outcome of our projects. Though most china painting is a traditional approach steeped in certain practices and styles, I am drawn to the more modern expressions of porcelain art .
ABOVE: three pieces I have been working on. The bowls are only three layers and they are ready to sell. But the platter will be more complex with up to 10 layers fired on.
BELOW: I showed some of my student work at SPLASH gallery earlier in the year. Though they were not for sale, it was fun to show off.
NEW china painted handsculpted porcelain butterflies are made to celebrate rare and endangered species that can be found in Thurston County WA. These new pieces will be for sale at Splash Gallery- and through me- use contact for for request.... and all profit goes to FORP the Friends of Rocky Prairie .
For more information about the industrial center they are working to STOP please go to :
Carefully sculpted in transcluscent porcelain each butterfly is fired up to 4 times with fine french china pigments. When you buy a butterfly you donate to protecting one of the last rmeining prairies in Washington State and the country (less than 1% left) with their unique terrain, animals and plants, and aquifers.
One fun fact is that Oregon Oaks (Garry oaks) which are found on these same prairies....were considered sacred by the native americans for their prolific food source. They also have been found to support amazing delicious truffles in their roots! Cool huh!?
for more info click on link: http://www.southsoundprairies.org/
for more butterfly info click on: https://xerces.org/
In my journey to china paint (or Porcelain Painting as some call it) I have learned many things. First china painting is hard! It takes lots and lots of practice. Originating in China with their coveted fine porcelain making, china painting was often very detailed and precious. For hundreds of years, wealthy europeans craved the valuable porcelain pieces from Asia.
Attending classes by Nancy Myatt and learning the basics of this art has been a great way to go.. Her kind patience and the encouragement of the other class attendees has really helped. Many classes of this type become very much a social engagement as well, and the students often approach this art as a hobby.
When I attended a china painting convention last month I could see it is, unfortunately, a waning art as well. Unless the new generations takes it on, the resources for china painter will continue to dwindle.
Once I called it an 'old lady art' in my snooty limited aesthetic (and in the ignorance of the foolish). Yes it could be called that in the sense that its often older folks who have the time to do such detailed work. When I did art on the side I would have struggled to both have the patience and the time to do it.
As I create each new piece I find myself greedy for more colors. Unlike other forms of painting where mixing is the encouraged form of creating color, china painting is awash in a huge array of wonderful shades. Names like 'new rose', 'cameo' and 'Alice Blue'. In my obsessive plunge I have accumulated about 85 colors and laid them out like candy on glass sheets. When Painting I just dabble one color or another intuitively onto my porcelain picture. Not having gotten much beyond the 'copy the masters' stage, I can see the color on the original and replicate it onto my piece quite well. My own color preferences(or are they limitations?) lead me to alter the original in my final work.
Below is how I lay out my workspace in my grandparents home. It has helped me to design the workspace I hope to have in my new art studio built later this year.
I love to work small so it does limit some of the factors a large platter can provide in the form of a canvas background. But I can store all the work easily and it fells like it makes them more precious somehow.
Eventually I can see the marrying of my sculpture work in porcelain with more detailed paintings. Not unlike Sergeio Isohov or irina zaytceva. But quite different in their compositions and sculptural detail.
The surface of the porcelain has to be pretty smooth in order to make good work. I found myself sanding repeatedly my own porcelain sculpture (its called bisque when unglazed). If the work is glazed, the paint will smooth out over the surface, making painting easier.
As I learned last year, the clay I use has to vitrify at a lower temp in order to not cause mildew-a term used in china painting to describe black spots that ruin your painting in the firing process.
Below is a study I am working on of Jan Dansk's 'Vase of Flowers'. Its a difficult piece but I love the work and wanted to just try it. It seemed I could get closer to this magnificent artwork by working on my version for several months. Its in its 7th firing (layers of china paint fired onto porcelain) and I am thinking it might be done and ready to be framed.
On Left is the study with 3 firings in.....on right it has had 7 layers fired in. Some details had to be omitted since the porcelain disc is only about 10 inches high.
The cup above-front and back pictures- was a freehand drawing in china pen oil. The only original art I have done in china painting to date. I purchased all kinds of porcelain ware to practice on.
After the first firing it was fun to just fill in the colors like a coloring book page. Though I don't really want to sell massproduced cups with my painting on them, they are great gifts.
New line of china painted handsculpted, one of a kind-rabbits, ducks and birds. A few of them extra special like the top-hat bunny and duck below.
Buy at Splash Gallery, Olympia, Washington. $20-65.00, 1/2 inch to 4 inches tall.
NEW ABSOLUTELY UNIQUE METALWORk/PORCELAIN PIECES
In addition to the Fairy trees I am crafting out of copper, I added a few new ideas in the studio. Below is a 'Fairy Cage' with tiny handmade roses (7 inches). It will have a fairy mounted in center.
And below that is a new line of tabletop flower stems. This one is a dogwood that harbors a tiny bird and nest. It runs about $55-75 (5-8inches)